Around the world, free meals have been making it into the mouths of the hungry at an impressive scale. In New York public schools, lunches are free of charge. Soup kitchens, like La Soupe in Cincinnati, are growing in abundance across the nation. This modest Anatolian town is home to Merkez restaurant, which offers free meals to the poor.
On any given day, [owner Mehmet] Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people.
Merkez owners have been serving free meals for a healthy 70 years. Menu items include rice, chicken, soup, and, of course, kebabs. On Islamic holidays, Merkez provides feasts at no cost to the entire town of Karakocan.
“No matter who you ask in Elazig, they will tell you about Karakocan’s generosity,” [says Hasan Gulbasan, restaurant manager in Karakocan.]
Karakocan has aided causes for Syria’s Aleppo as well as victims of the Van earthquake in 2011. Many claim to engage in philanthropic activities for the sake of barakah (blessings), but are also just inherently giving. If there is one thing this little Turkish community can preach, it’s that generosity never gets old.
Massachusetts has become the first state to transform its abundance of trash into an energy hub. Other groups are working in smaller scales to refurbish waste into furniture, among other things. However, most seem to be ignoring the elephant in the room or, rather, the floating pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean. The Trash Isles, roughly the size of France, if not removed, may soon be recognized as an independent country.
Advocates of the Trash Isles receiving statehood argue that the island has (ever-growing) borders, and would form a government if needed… They’ve enlisted designer Mario Kerkstra to create a flag, a passport, currency (which would be called “Debris”), and stamps.
So, technically, the floating island of waste qualifies as a legitimate nation. But why go through the trouble? And why, specifically, is former U.S. president Al Gore rallying behind it?
“Ultimately, we want to shrink this nation… Let’s come up with biodegradable materials, let’s add a price on carbon, as well as laws and regulations to stop this wasteful practice of just throwing everything away and doing everything we can to create a circular economy.” [says Gore]
As with most bold gestures regarding the environment, it’s all about awareness. After all, who wouldn’t be moved by a country built upon trash?
If our future is in the hands of Generation Z, I’ll be honest — I’m pretty hopeful. At the end of the day, they’re raising money for deaf children and even delivering babies. If you aren’t won over yet, a young hero from Wales rescued five people from dangerous coastlines. To top it off, he’s only 8-years-old!
Brave Steffan Williams was out kayaking when he spotted three tourists – an elderly woman and two teenagers – huddled on a rock. He quickly fetched his rubber dinghy and then towed the terrified trio back to the shore. And just two days later he spotted two teenage boys stuck on the same rock, frantically whistling and waving to catch his attention.
Williams, who was only 6 when he began kayaking and sailing, has since raised £100 for his father’s lifesaving crew. When I was that age, I don’t think I was off training wheels.
“I want to be a life boat person when I get the chance. They are taking away the New Quay lifeboat to replace it with a little one. I’m very sad about that. I want to be on the big lifeboat. You can join at 17.”
If it’s in this child’s nature to help others, I can imagine that most of our younger ones are doing pretty well.
Mount Trashmore, a landfill-turned-energy-hub in Massachusetts, seems to be encouraging other states to follow suit. (And it looks to be working!) Florida, recently hit by a massive storm, is using Hurricane Irma waste to fuel its power grid.
Combustion reduces the solid waste to ash, and the heat that’s produced runs steam generators. Much of the waste left in Irma’s path will burn, the energy released adding to local communities’ electricity.
While incineration isn’t the most environmentally-friendly method of trash disposal, it’s getting somewhere. Newer technologies are managing pollution, removing mercury and dioxin from waste. A 20% increase in garbage seen after Irma may be problematic, but at least the Department of Environmental Protection is doing something about it.
The county’s 565,000 tons of trash a year produces about 45 megawatts of power, or enough to run about 30,000 homes. “It pays for itself,” Byer said of Hillsborough’s waste-to-energy facility.
A hurricane’s trash is Florida’s treasure.
For millionaires who give back, writing big checks is the most sensible option. Just last month, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates donated $4.6 billion to charity. But for foster children displaced by Hurricane Irma, millionaire Marc Bell is doing something different. The former executive of Penthouse magazine opened his Florida mansion to 70 kids.
“There was an abundance of love. All these kids were getting one-on-one attention, which they never get. All the little kids were being held by someone and the older kids were getting one-on-one conversation,” [said Bell]
By the numbers, the Bell family ordered 20 pizzas, did 36 loads of laundry, and served 800 meals in 72 hours. To entertain the presumably nervous children, the Bells also hired balloon artists and ice cream trucks.
“It was a magical experience and I managed to talk to all the kids and get to know them,”
“We always help people. We never say ‘no,’… That’s just who we are.”
When the children returned to the SOS Children’s Villages shelter, Bell took the time to visit them. Bell has since proved to be not only a philanthropist, but an active figure in the lives of children in need.
For the recent victims of Harvey and Irma, several knights in shining armor have come to the rescue. This includes big businesses like Houston Bike Share, that are making donations to families who have lost cars. They also include individuals such as this air force couple who postponed their wedding to rescue Florida citizens.
Michael Davis and Lauren Durham were supposed to get married in mid-September. But one week before the big day, the couple decided to skip their scheduled wedding in order to rescue strangers from Hurricane Irma.
Both are medical technicians, and while their hearts were with one another, they were also with the victims who needed them. Instead of wedding on Atlantic Beach, the two exchanged vows in a Florida hangar.
“The Air Force lives by the creed ‘service before self,’ ” Davis says. “So that’s what we’re here for, to put the citizens first.”
I guess, then, that it’s true. Love can move mountains. Or, in this case, move victims to safety.
There is no denying that climate change is a curse — but, in a way, also a blessing. Recurring heat waves have allowed bright minds to find alternative sources of energy, making the most of traffic and laptop batteries. Now, startup SkyCool wants to help homeowners save on electricity bills with an air conditioning system that beams heat into space.
Objects on earth give off heat in the form of an invisible type of light called infrared radiation. Emissions in the mid-infrared range of eight and 13 micrometers slip through the atmosphere and into the cool lower layers of space.
SkyCool invented a material that can take advantage of this natural occurrence. The material… radiates infrared light within the eight to 13 micrometer range. It also reflects 97 percent of sunlight, which prevents sun’s warmth from offsetting the effect.
The material, which is fitted over pipes, can save buildings up to 70% off air conditioning fees. Not only is it a dream cost-wise — it can lower carbon emissions, 10% of which arise from cooling systems worldwide. Word on the street is that SkyCool will be tending to potential customers by next year. Here’s to hoping construction costs are as cool as the actual product.
When it comes to natural disasters, no one is safe. Hurricane Harvey, which rampaged around Houston, ruined homes and establishments alike. While many are eager to help, people need to be mindful of the appropriate measures to take. Some, like Houston Bike Share, are going the extra mile by helping victims ride out the damage by giving them free bicycles.
“We’re really pushing this as helping someone who lost a vehicle, but we also have cases where there’s families asking if we have kids’ bikes so their kids would be able to bike to school, because without a family car, they’re running around not knowing the best way to get who where,”
The storm destroyed nearly a million cars, a tragedy for 94.4% of Houston households that use them. Insurance is saving the day for 85% of car insurance holders, but leaving the remaining 15% in the dust.
“You’ve got some people who have been displaced to areas where they can’t take their regular form of public transportation. And so we’re open to those applicants as well.”
As of today, bike manufacturing companies have donated around 450 bicycles. That should be keeping the Houston ball rolling!
Months ago, we considered whether drones could be life-savers. Now that they’re restoring forests and transporting defibrillators, it seems the answer is yes. California-based company Zipline is pushing the limits even further, delivering blood transfusions via drone to remote areas across the nation. Recently, it tested the effects of long-haul flights on blood cartridges.
[The] team used a hybrid drone that combined a helicopter’s ability to launch and land vertically with a glider’s longer flight range. The researchers attached a custom-built, foam-cushioned cooler to the drone’s fuselage. Powered by the vehicle’s onboard battery, the cooler kept the samples at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit — 15 degrees cooler than outside air.
After 3 hours of testing, researchers deemed the blood healthy and relatively unaffected. Zipline has since delivered blood to areas in Rwanda and is now targeting Tanzania. They are also taking extreme safety measures to minimize drone accidents.
Drones for medical transport should be regulated: pilots should have licenses, and specific drone routes should be designated to prevent crashes.
Admittedly, drones have a lot of work to do. Still, they are promising an optimistic outlook of the future. Especially now, we could use the good news.
Toast ale craft beer and human waste charcoal are proof that you can make anything out of anything. Lately, innovators have pushed the boundaries even further, creating vegetable leather out of wine byproducts.
The production process begins with pressing the grapes and separating the grape marc… The grape marc is dried to avoid degradation and to enable its preservation up to three years from the date of desiccation… Next, physical and mechanical patented treatments are carried out, thus obtaining a mixture that is then coated and transformed into sheets of the material.
Sustainable leather-maker Vegea projects that the 7 billion kilograms of grape marc produced each year can account for 2.6 billion square meters of leather.
“We believe that the exploitation of winemaking by-products is crucial for environmental sustainability. In Vegea’s production process, these organic by-products are transformed into a high value added biomaterial,”
Plant-based leather is not only environmentally risk-free — it’s a blessing for vegans and sigh of relief for thousands of cows who don’t have to bite the dust.